Health Club Management November December 2017

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ASK AN EXPERT

How should operators best deal with excessive exercisers?

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

With physical inactivity at worringly high levels, committed gym members are to be applauded. But how should operators respond when members appear to be exercising excessively? Kath Hudson asks the experts if it’s best to turn a blind eye or to intervene

Regularly exercising beyond exhaustion can have a negative impact on the body

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esearch has long shown that exercise has a wide range of benefits and can improve some conditions, such as depression and high blood pressure, more effectively than medication. Furthermore, many people successfully use sport and exercise as a positive tool to deal with grief, loneliness, divorce and other major life changes. However, exercise can become addictive and have a negative impact on a person’s body, health and life if carried out excessively. Writing in the British Medical Journal, physiologist Dr Cathy Zanker, who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), said that her condition drove her to work out in a very precise manner every day: the same treadmill, same cycle ergometer, same spot in the pool, come what may and to the point of exhaustion. With four degrees in biomedical science, she was aware that she was overexercising, but she was also fighting the “punishing voices” of OCD and anorexia nervosa.

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Overexercising and undereating frequently thrive off one another, especially if someone is using exercise to burn lots of calories or achieve a specific weight. However, this is common practice among elite athletes. Speaking in the June issue of Health Club Management, former international rower, Zac Purchase, said that in order to maintain his race weight he was restricted to just 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day, despite training intensely for four or five hours each day. Few operators would intervene if Zac Purchase was training tirelessly in their gym. But what if a member of the public is using your gym multiple times a day, has lost visible amounts of weight and/or seems to be punishing themselves through exercise? Legally, gym staff are not obliged to intervene if they think someone is overexercising or has an eating disorder, but do operators have a moral duty of care? And if you do choose to broach this difficult subject, which team member should do it and how?

healthclubmanagement.co.uk November/December 2017 ©Cybertrek 2017